Stars: Gerard Butler, Mike Colter, Yoson An, Danielle Pineda, Tony Goldwyn, Haleigh Hekking
As punchy and to the point as its title, this airborne Gerard Butler vehicle never quite soars but is undemanding and entertaining enough.
Butler is commercial pilot Brodie Torrance. Ex-forces (tick), widowed (tick) and looking forward to seeing his daughter Daniela (Hekking) for New Year (tick), Torrance is about to fly from Singapore to Tokyo, partnered with young co-pilot and new acquaintance Dele (An), Torrance is disturbed to discover that his plane will also be transporting a recently apprehended accused murderer Louis Gaspare (Colter) who is being extradited under FBI guard. Shortly after taking off, the plane is hit by lightning and Brodie makes a miraculous landing on an island in the Philippines. Alas, this is just the start of problems for the crew and the fourteen passengers who will have to wing it (oh, please yourselves!) to survive.
The script and characterisation are so generic they could have been supplied by AI, while the flight and ground crew are populated by types that will be all-too-familiar to 70s disaster film connoisseurs (shrill selfish businessman, hysterical woman, brave innocent, pencil-head airline employee, no-nonsense tough guy straight shooter a la Kramer in ‘Airplane!). It’s unapologetically blokeish too with only Daniella Pineda’s mildly gusty air hostess registering among the female characters.
Still, Richet, the French director of the Vincent Cassel-starring ‘Mesrine’ sequel knows his way around a genre piece and keeps the story moving along at a brisk rate. Save for the odd wilfully daft character decision necessary to advance the plot, the script plays it commendably straight and (ahem) grounded, while Gerard Butler’s tough, vulnerable reluctant hero and Mike Colter’s wily tough guy make an appealing duo. The climax eschews CGI excess and is genuinely exciting.
Plane is released on 24th January
Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm
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